A lot of new beers have been hitting the shelves, and most of them have been quite good. It was a good weekend of sampling.

The biggest news is that Baxter Brewing Co.’s Pamola Xtra Pale Ale hit the shelves last week, and the company was having trouble keeping up with demand. The company store ran out of six-packs over the weekend, according to the Baxter Facebook page, and when I bought my six-pack for $8.79 early Saturday afternoon at RSVP on Forest Avenue in Portland, the clerk told me the beer was selling fast.

I liked the test taste of Pamola when I visited the brewery in December, but the cans I tasted over the weekend were even better. It has a subtle aroma of hops and malt, and creates a good white head.

The beer — which is 4.9 percent alcohol — has a lot of body, especially for a pale ale. It just felt substantial in the mouth, and had some malt sweetness followed by a slight hop bite at the back end. All three people who tasted this liked it a lot.

Luke Livingston, founder and owner of Baxter, has made what seem to be some wise marketing decisions in founding Baxter Brewing. He located the brewery at the former Bates complex in Lewiston, a city with no other craft breweries. He became the first Maine brewer to use cans instead of bottles, saying they preserve beer better, are kinder to the environment and are easier to carry on hikes, golf courses and fishing trips.

Most of all, he has made a really good beer in the Pamola. Stowaway IPA will be harder to get. The company said on its Facebook page Tuesday that it had six-packs of Stowaway, but only 51 of them, and once they are gone they won’t have more until late February. They could be gone by the time this hits print.


Nancy and I followed the Pamola with the Double Throttle IPA from Sebago Brewing Co. This is an unfiltered beer that has a complex, sort of musty aroma that we had trouble placing at first but finally decided was a combination of the yeast and American hops — Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe.

This is a definite West Coast-style hoppy beer, and beginning with about the third sip, we decided it was a beer we could drink quite a bit of — a complex, slow-sipping ale. I couldn’t find the alcohol content on either the bottle or four-pack container — $8.99 at Hannaford on Forest Avenue — and I was surprised to find, when I checked the Sebago website, that it is 9.1 percent. I had thought it would be lower.

The next day, we tasted the Samuel Adams Revolutionary IPA, which beat out a Belgian IPA in last summer’s Beer Lover’s Choice competition. I waited until son-in-law Christian, a big fan of rye beers, could join me to taste this — and it did not disappoint.

It has a deep red color, a good head and a pleasantly astringent and spicy flavor. The rye combines with the malt to give it a nice complexity. It comes in at 5.5 percent alcohol, and Christian thought it would be a great summer beer.

For now, it is available only as part of the American Originals 12-packs, which include Lager, Noble Pils, Scotch Ale, Irish Red and White Ale — at $14 to $16, depending on the store.

The Noble Pils is also available as a late-winter seasonal, and was the 2009 Beer Lover’s Choice winner. This beer includes a mixture of all five noble Czech hops, has a wonderfully deep hops flavor and is clear and crisp. This is a beer I expected, based on taste, to have a fairly high alcohol content, but it is only 4.9 percent.


Some Magic Hat samples came into the office. I really liked one and really disliked the other.

The On-Tour Demo black IPA was nicely bitter, with just a bit of charcoal roastiness in the flavor. It was an excellent unfiltered IPA with just a bit more malt than normal, had a good body and mouthfeel, and came in at 6 percent alcohol.

The Vinyl Amber Lager, however, had an off aroma that reminded all three of us of swamp vegetation. It wasn’t like any hops any of us had experienced. I hope we just got a bad batch.

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at:

[email protected]


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